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Holi in Multan

Opinion

January 15, 2021

The Pakistan Hindu Council, while ensuring preparations to organize the annual combined marriages ceremony for deserving Hindu couples, faced various hurdles and uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, it is a matter of great honor and prestige that we have maintained our traditions to organize the annual event. This year, 48 Hindu couples tied the knot in the presence of a limited audience following the coronavirus SOPs. Arrangements for other couples are being ensured in their respective areas at the district level.

In this regard, I would like to extend special thanks to the chairman of the One-Man Commission, Dr Shoaib Saddle, for gracing the occasion and expressing solidarity with the vulnerable Hindu Community. I am also grateful to Mr Faisal Edhi, who followed in the footsteps of his great father the late Abdul Sattar Edhi, always ensuring his presence every year. Similarly, the media also extended valuable support to cover this colorful ceremony in a friendly way. During my media talk, I categorically stated that the patriotic Pakistani Hindu community loves our motherland Pakistan, and that a few extremists are present in every society that spread hatred in order to achieve their vested interests.

Arrangements for broadcasting the ceremony live on social media were also made so that the international community could witness that minorities in Pakistan have full freedom to organize socio-religious ceremonies. In my view, the successful event of Hindu combined marriages also resulted in promoting a positive image of Pakistan before the international community.

On the occasion, the announcement to celebrate the upcoming Holi festival in March at the ancient Prahlad Temple in Multan was widely welcomed by the audience. They were excited to know that the Pakistan Hindu Council, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, is going to celebrate Holi at Prahlad Temple.

Although today Holi has become an international festival, it actually originated from Multan, one of the oldest cities in the world. It also has a special significance in the eyes of the Hindu community due to the presence of the Prahlad Temple. For many thousand years, Hindu followers from all across the globe travelled to Multan. Even today every Hindu has a sincere desire to visit the Prahlad Temple for pilgrimage purposes at least once in their life.

The temple, adjacent to the shrine of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria, is also considered one of the hallmarks of the traditional diverse society of Multan. Unfortunately, in response to the Babri Masjid tragedy in India, it was demolished by a violent mob in 1992.

Recently, the One Man Commission, headed by Dr Shoaib Suddle, visited the Prahlad Temple, on the orders of the Supreme Court. As the only minority member, I also had the honor to visit the sacred place where once Prahlad had celebrated Holi thousands of years ago. The miserable condition of the temple saddened us all. The unfortunate situation is yet another undeniable fact about the failure of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which is actually responsible for safeguarding such sacred religious places of the Hindu community.

During a recent meeting of the executive body of the Pakistan Hindu Council, I suggested celebrating the upcoming Holi at the Prahlad Temple. My suggestion was unanimously approved by the members. It was also decided to invite Honorable Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed as the chief guest of the ceremony. In my view, the historical event would also be helpful in uplifting socio-economic conditions of the local population.

After the last 74 years, the minorities in Pakistan are now quite hopeful that the positive steps taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan will help transform Pakistan into a peaceful and tolerant society according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam. In my view, regardless of the tag of minority or majority, every Pakistani citizen must be allowed to play his/her due role for the prosperity of Pakistan.

Finally, I would like to invite everyone, including civil society representatives, parliamentarians, media friends and students, to celebrate Holi with us at the historical Prahlad Temple of Multan in order to promote interfaith harmony and national unity.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani